HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii hospitals are near capacity with no sign of easing up. Officials said that’s having a negative effect on critical health services.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said hospitals are averaging more than 24 hundred patients a day, which is 400 more than the average before the pandemic. One reason is Hawaii’s aging population which leads to more people in the hospitals. The other is that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are severely understaffed.
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“On any given day, we have maybe 250 to 300 patients that are ready to be discharged. But we don’t have placement for them either in the long-term care facility or some other setting outside of the hospital,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President.
Raethel said mainland nurses have helped with the staffing at hospitals, but it’s not economically feasible to bring in healthcare workers for nursing homes because they need CNA’s and LPN’s who provide basic medical care.
“It just doesn’t work out economically to bring them in from the mainland, and so that remains a significant problem,” said Raethel.
The problem is leading to more challenges for EMS crews, who are already dealing with more emergency calls per day than ever. EMS said more hospitals are on reroute meaning they can’t accept any more patients. So EMS crews have to go farther to transport patients. Dropping off a patient in the emergency room is also taking longer.
It normally takes five minutes for EMS to drop off a patient to the emergency room. But with a lack of available beds, EMS said it’s taking a half hour or even longer.
“So it makes our crew stay with a patient inside the lobby area and that takes an ambulance out of service for us on the 911 system,” said EMS District Chief Kenneth Faria.
Solutions are in the works. To get more staffing at nursing homes the state is ramping up training and offering scholarships for LPN’s and CNA’s.
“So we’ve already turned out some, some people have already graduated from this programs,” said Raethel.
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At EMS, they’ve started a policy to bring patients with minor injuries to clinics.
“So rather than transporting a patient from their home to the hospital we’re going to clinics now,” said Faria.